Telefonica plans Q2 launch for virtualized phones

It will offer Galaxy S II phones in Spain that come with VMware's hypervisor

Telefonica expects to start selling virtualized Samsung Galaxy S II phones with VMware technology in Spain, starting in the second quarter.

Telefonica and Verizon both said in October that they expected to launch phones with VMware hypervisors in the "coming months." Unless Verizon beats it to market, Telefonica will be the first in the market to offer virtualized phones.

After it launches in Spain, Telefonica will bring the offering to the rest of its European markets and then Latin America, said Srinivas Krishnamurti, senior director of mobile solutions at VMware.

He said that in the next four to six weeks, VMware expects to announce three more handset makers that plan to include its technology in their phones. Both LG and Samsung have already pledged to add the software to all of their phones in the future, he said. So far, VMware's hypervisor works only with Android.

Some of VMware's software must be built into the phones before they hit the shelves. But unless a business has enabled the capability on the phone, a user won't know it's there, he said.

If a business does enable it, using the IT administrator console that VMware provides, an employee will find an icon on the phone that lets them launch a work persona on the phone. It looks similar to a regular Android interface but includes only apps that the enterprise approves. VMware has developed some apps like email, contacts, calendar and print to populate the work persona, but an IT administrator can approve any app built for Android to run in the work persona.

Telefonica is offering the capability as a service, hosting the management console for IT administrators.

Verizon has not yet set a date for when it will start selling LG phones with the virtualization technology.

Once more phone models have the technology, the idea behind mobile virtualization is to let workers choose whatever phone they want, while enterprises can still secure access to corporate data.

Open Kernel Labs and Red Bend are also developing mobile virtualization technologies. Others, like Enteproid and Fixmo, take a slightly different approach to separating corporate and personal apps. They offer secure containers on phones for corporate apps in an effort to protect them from potential malware. That approach doesn't require software to be loaded into phones by the manufacturer but it does require developers to write or update their apps to work in the container.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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